June 27th, 2014
09:26 AM ET
4 months ago

McDaniel says 'hundreds' of irregularities found in Mississippi race

(CNN) - Three days after Mississippi's bitter Republican Senate primary runoff ended, the challenger in the race refuses to concede, charging that "this was not a fair election. Activity was illegal, at worst. Unethical, at best."

And in an exclusive interview with CNN affiliate WLOX, state Sen. Chris McDaniel said he was shocked at how fellow Republicans verbally attacked him after he announced a primary challenge against six-term Sen. Thad Cochran.

McDaniel, who enjoyed strong support from tea party and anti-establishment groups, narrowly edged out Cochran in the June 3 primary, but with neither man cracking 50% (there was a third Republican candidate on the ballot who grabbed 1.5% of the vote), the contest moved to Tuesday's runoff, which Cochran won by fewer than 7,000 votes.

Tea party leader connected to photo conspiracy involving Cochran's wife found dead from possible suicide

Cochran's victory was aided votes from African-American Democrats, who were actively courted during the runoff campaign by pro-Cochran forces. According to Mississippi law, voters are not required to register with a political party, and anyone who doesn't vote in a primary election can cast a ballot in either party's runoff.

But McDaniel told WLOX on Thursday that his camp has already found irregularities in Tuesday's election.

"Republicans are supposed to choose the Republican nominee in the U.S. Senate. That's not what happened here. Thirty-five- to 40,000 Democrats jumped into this race and apparently tried to decide it. They have their own primary. We have ours. What we're looking for right now is irregularities. We already found hundreds, and we're going to keep looking," McDaniel said.

McDaniel added that those irregularities include people who first voted in the Democratic primary, then illegally crossed over to vote in the Republican runoff.

McDaniel repeated his earlier vow to use every legal maneuver available to fight Tuesday's results, adding that "integrity of elections matters. It always has mattered."

And McDaniel he said that the pro-Cochran forces should be ashamed of the strategy they used in urging black Democrats to vote for the senator.
"They called me a racist. They used race-baiting tactics. They scared people to the polls. That's no way to behave. They used people, and that's no way to behave," he said.

More than 61,000 more people voted in Tuesday's runoff than in the June 3rd Senate primary. It's extremely rare that turnout increases in a runoff election. And turnout in Mississippi's majority African-American districts increased at a much higher rate than overall turnout.

But those who backed Cochran defend their actions.

In an interview with CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash on Wednesday, Henry Barbour, the nephew of former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who steered the pro-Cochran Mississippi Conservatives, said, "In America, we have a right to vote. And in Mississippi, we don't register by party. So whites and blacks get to vote in the Republican primary if they decide, and I think the Constitution gives them that right. So, I'm afraid he's [McDaniel] wrong, I mean, people have a right to vote and I'm damned proud to have asked them for their support."

Complete Coverage: 2014 Midterm Elections

And Barbour said that some Democrats may have been converted.

"I'll tell you, some of the Democrats that we were recruiting to vote for Sen. Cochran - some of them have called me talking about switching," Barbour said. "This is how you grow."

In the interview with WLOX, McDaniel also said he has "no hard feelings" toward Republican leaders in Mississippi, but that he is still shocked at how they attacked him.

"I never thought that me, as a two-term Republican elected official, would be treated the way I was. It was character assassination. They [fellow Republicans] attacked me every chance they got. They ridiculed me. They mocked me. And that was an about-face from the way they treated me just prior to my primary challenge."

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story


Filed under: 2014 • Chris McDaniel • Mississippi • Senate Primaries • Senate Race • Thad Cochran
soundoff (581 Responses)
  1. CT

    Ironically, the reason Mississippi has open primaries in the first place was so old white conservative Dixiecrats could cross party lines to help Jim Crow candidates defeat centrist ones. Now those same open primaries helped the more centrist candidate beat the one who has been accused of racism. Oops!

    June 27, 2014 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  2. revmatthews

    Sour grapes makes an excellent whine, doesn't it?

    June 27, 2014 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  3. Gotta Be Kidding

    Who was it that coined the term "Reagan Democrats"? I don't think it was the Democrats! So it's ok if Democrats vote for a Republican in the Presidential election but not in any other election? Someone please explain this to me!

    June 27, 2014 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    Anonymous

    Apparently, Teabaggers like McDaniel don't like outside "influences" when it works AGAINST them, but it's OK when it work for them. These Teabaggers ( the REAL RINOS) seem to have forgotten Limbaugh's 2008 " Operation Chaos" when he advised his listeners to go out and vote in the Democratic Primaries to "mess things up for the Democrats".
    -------------------------------------
    I have always felt that Limbaugh played a role in Sen. Obama winning the Democratic nomination by doing that. And come out to vote they did in those states with open primaries. In other words, all of the Obama haters out there can probably thank Rush Limbaugh for playing a role in getting Obama the nomination.

    June 27, 2014 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  5. smhusa2013

    The fact that was even a close race is alarming.

    June 27, 2014 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  6. Rick

    Why is it when ever a Republican loses they call fraud?

    June 27, 2014 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Anonymous

    WOW!! All you democrats must have forgotten about FL when your boy Gore, who fought on and on and it took the Supreme Court ruling to finally decide? I don't remember all you calling Gore a sore loser!? Why not let the investigation take place and see how many people voted in both (which is illegal) and remove the tax exempt statuses of the churches that violated the rules. CNN is such a liberal rag!
    -------------------------------–
    WOW! Your spontaneous confabulation is impressive. Al Gore did not initiate the recount process, Florida law required it.

    June 27, 2014 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  8. LIB FAIL

    GOP FAIL

    Tea Party = Losers
    ++++++++++++++++++
    Libs = Poor Fools

    June 27, 2014 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  9. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    tom l says:
    June 27, 2014 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm
    “Comments on this board just proves that Sniffit was incorrect that only repubs make nasty and disgusting comments.

    I have, quite literally, (a) never said any such thing EVER and (b) consistently corrected my fellow liberals when they do it. And yeah, now is one of those times. Cut it out guys.
    =====

    Clearly you don’t recall the interaction with you and Wake Up! where she made a comment about “if you don’t have anything nice to say” and then said something along the lines that only repubs do it. I wish I could find it but it was 2 weeks ago…

    Find if Tom. I think you have me mixed up with someone else.

    June 27, 2014 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  10. tinykhan

    Who cares if he concedes or not? A vote is a vote, he lost. He can go around saying he won forever, won't change anything.

    June 27, 2014 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  11. GOP FAIL

    @LIB

    Then why did my 401K quadruple since that failure Bush left office?

    The answer: PRESIDENT OBAMA

    Quit trying so hard, it's not your fault LIB. You've been brainwashed by the GOP.

    June 27, 2014 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    Clearly you don’t recall the interaction with you and Wake Up! where she made a comment about “if you don’t have anything nice to say” and then said something along the lines that only repubs do it. I wish I could find it but it was 2 weeks ago…

    Find if Tom. I think you have me mixed up with someone else.
    ---------------------------------
    Nah, no he doesn't. It's his sense of reality is what's mixed up. He made a post earlier today about how under the Bush administration the NSA was never caught making warrantless wiretaps. He's got quite the imagination for such and enclosed space.

    June 27, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  13. ChrisM

    Mark Mayfield, the TP leader that committed suicide is a buddy of McDaniel. Birds of a feather flock together.

    June 27, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  14. thiruc

    Is this the fox and the sour grapes thing? If he lost, he should accept people's will.

    In his defence though, if people voted once during an election and illegally voted again in the same election, it should be looked into. However, if the people voted for one party in one election and voted for another party in a different election, that is their right. That scenario happens all the time.

    As for candidates asking people to cross parties, again, that happens in politics.

    So, unless there is evidence that there was real illegal activities took place, this is a case of sour grapes.

    June 27, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  15. Mancee Graice

    So it comes to this in the dark, smoky halls of retaliban headquarters? Oh my, you just can't make up this stuff can you?

    June 27, 2014 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  16. CryBabies

    Back to the "left-wing love-in fest"...So GOPers love misery? We'll surely see who holds the "Misery" card when November gets here. Keep spout'in off libs....I'm enjoying this.

    June 27, 2014 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  17. Kris

    I just want you to know that I have been offended several times when watching this coverage over the last couple of days. I am the whitest white girl around and I think that the way you have been wording the story has been so racist. Whatever your views of African Americas are personally, you should never arrange your story in such a way that your views are made apparent. In this case, the way you are presenting the story makes it seem like it's crazy that African Americans can vote any way that they choose. Your use of "Uncle Tom" and "Clan" in your story is horrendous. I hope now that you are being made aware of ways that you are offending people, you many changes your ways. Thank you.

    June 27, 2014 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  18. jacksprat

    And so now, this guy supposed killed himself... nah there more to this story for certain. I sure would hate to get lost, not that I would ever travel nor have a reason to in Mississippi! Good grief folks... what's going on down there?

    June 27, 2014 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  19. jacksprat

    GOPTards? wow... and I've been thinking this was one of the poorest states in America, something apparently isn't working here... that's right, crooked letters in more than the name, right?

    June 27, 2014 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  20. amisc1970

    McDaniel is just a cry-baby. He says "Republicans are supposed to chose the Republican nominee." But since according to Mississippi law, voters are not required to register with a political party, he's complaining that people who typically might vote for a Democrat voted against him. Will McDaniel renounce any votes from people who aren't registered for a party and typically vote for a Republican, since they aren't Republicans either. Since whoever won the primary is very likely to win the general election, the people who crossed over to vote for Cochran probably felt that McDaniel was less desirable to become their Senator from their perspective.

    June 27, 2014 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    This cry baby should stick with his elected position with the kkk

    June 27, 2014 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  22. Lynda/Minnesota

    tinykhan
    Who cares if he concedes or not? A vote is a vote, he lost. He can go around saying he won forever, won't change anything.
    -----------–

    Indeed. Best laugh of the day.

    June 27, 2014 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  23. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Rudy NYC says:
    June 27, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm
    Clearly you don’t recall the interaction with you and Wake Up! where she made a comment about “if you don’t have anything nice to say” and then said something along the lines that only repubs do it. I wish I could find it but it was 2 weeks ago…

    Find if Tom. I think you have me mixed up with someone else.
    —————————————————————————————————
    Nah, no he doesn’t. It’s his sense of reality is what’s mixed up. He made a post earlier today about how under the Bush administration the NSA was never caught making warrantless wiretaps. He’s got quite the imagination for such and enclosed space.

    I was trying to be nice Rudy. We all know he's a delusional attention seeker constantly chastising dems but never republicans. But he's an independent. And I'm Chris Christy's twin. ☺️☺️☺️

    TGIF peeps!!

    June 27, 2014 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  24. Michael MN

    In a state in which people do not declare party membership when they register to vote, I find McDaniel's objections a bit strange. In my state, I have voted for both Democrats and Republicans, and I have participated in both the Democratic and Republicn primaries, depending on which party had races that I determined were more critical to me that year. I consider myself an independent. I do vote Domocratic more than Republican, but I would find it absurd if someone thought it was "unfair" for me to vote in a Republican primary. Besides, if one lives in a state or a district in which it is a foregone conclusion that the winner of the election will be a member of a particular party, then every voter has the right to try to obtain the best possible elected official from that party.

    June 27, 2014 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    OMG what a bunch of ignoramuses commenting. Really? The GOP should be ashamed of itself, the tactics they've employed in this runoff make them no better than progressive democrats. Completely unethical. So now you have hundreds of instances of democrats voting twice in the primary. That's fraud! My bet is it will be well up into the thousands before it's finished. Then what? Cochran, Barbour, and the GOP establishment KNOW this is not the right thing to do, yet did it anyway. In primarys democrats should vote for democrats and republicans vote for republicans. Complete BS.

    June 27, 2014 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
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